Kli Yakar Genesis: Vayeshev
Changing Your DNA
Every few months, or even weeks, my father comes up with a new insight into human or divine nature and goes about sharing it with everyone he meets, whether head of state or waitress, accompanied by a personal anecdote. He likes to dig into the deeper meanings of life, which may account for my penchant to philosophize.
A number of weeks ago, his Rabbi was hospitalized in poor health. A few days after that, the Rabbi was up on his feet showing amazing strength and stamina. Upon meeting the Rabbi’s physician, my father asked the doctor if the Rabbi’s incredible recuperation was a function of DNA or perhaps supernatural. The doctor, uncomfortable with the question attributed DNA as the factor. A young man overhearing the discussion suggested that the Rabbi was able to change his DNA and thereby reach supernatural performance. People on four continents have since heard this anecdote.
Not surprisingly, the Kli Yakar has a similar philosophy. Joseph is accosted by the seductress, Potiphar’s wife. Joseph flees. The exact word in Hebrew is ‘vayanas’. The same verb is used to describe how during the Exodus, at the Splitting of the Sea, the waters ‘fled’ from the Children of Israel. This supernatural event is attributed to the merit of Joseph (whose remains Moses took with him).
The Kli Yakar explains (Genesis 29:12) that Joseph fled from (his) nature, that he transcended and rose above nature and the world. As a result he was then rewarded, as Viceroy, with control and dominion over nature and basically the civilized world at the time. So too his descendants were given the chance to rise above nature at the Splitting of the Sea, and retain that potential. In essence, as the Rabbi and the young man of my father’s anecdote suggests, we can overcome our initial human limitations, we can change nature itself and reach supernatural heights.
May we realize our potential and aim beyond it.
To my father. For changing his DNA on a regular basis and for taking the rest of us along with him for the ride.